ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Tiger Woods made his strongest statements yet concerning LIV Golf and PGA Tour defectors.
Addressing the media Tuesday at the Old Course ahead of the 150th Open Championship, Woods left nothing to interpretation.
“I think that what they've done is they've turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position,” Woods said in relation to players who had left the PGA Tour to compete on the rival circuit.
Woods had previously made clear that he sides wholly with the Tour. This, however, is the first major championship in which he has competed since nearly two dozen Tour players opted to join the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
In a lengthy response to a reporter’s question, Woods said that the Saudi-backed league isn’t good for the direction of the game, nor for players’ competitive careers.
“Some players have never got a chance to even experience [the PGA Tour]. They've gone right from the amateur ranks right into that organization and never really got a chance to play out here and what it feels like to play a Tour schedule or to play in some big events,” Woods said.
“And who knows what's going to happen in the near future with world ranking points, the criteria for entering major championships. The governing body is going to have to figure that out.
“Some of these players may not ever get a chance to play in major championships. That is a possibility. We don't know that for sure yet. It's up to all the major championship bodies to make that determination. But that is a possibility, that some players will never, ever get a chance to play in a major championship, never get a chance to experience this right here, walk down the fairways at Augusta National.”
Woods added that he believes what the professional golf world is experiencing now is different than what transpired in 1968, when a group of players led, in part, by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, broke away from the PGA of America to form the PGA Tour.
“I understand what Jack and Arnold did, because playing professional golf at a Tour level versus a club pro is different, and I understand that transition and that move and the recognition that a touring pro versus a club pro is," Woods said.
“But what these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You're just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes.”
Woods noted that 54-hole events are what you see on the over-50 tour, where “the guys are little bit older and a little more banged up.”
It’s over 72 holes, he expressed, that a player’s mettle is tested. And it's also competing when nothing is given that a player earns his worth.
“I just don't see how that move is positive in the long term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organization doesn't get world ranking points and the major championships change their criteria for entering the events,” he said.
“It would be sad to see some of these young kids never get a chance to experience it and experience what we've got a chance to experience and walk these hallowed grounds and play in these championships.”